Ah, the Christmas haul photo. Nothing says “I love consumerism” like posting 175 pictures of your 16-month-old baby with 25 high-end toys they will promptly forget as they demolish the wrapping paper and boxes (and rightfully so, because boxes rock). As a rule, I hate the Christmas haul photo phenomenon. It’s often shameless bragging and it’s damn annoying when it is. A very brief Twitter search shows me that I’m not alone.
I know, I know. Some of you will furiously comment (perhaps before even reading the post in its entirety) about how you don’t post these shots to brag. You use Facebook as a means to stay in touch with family and friends, and nothing more. But I’m not talking about the people with less than 100 Facey-Space friends who use it to stay in touch with grandma. No, I’m talking about the people with 1000 friends or followers (If you’re on Twitter, because who isn’t? Even my grandma is, and she has more followers than I do.) who post a ton of haul pics. These folks are bragging like eff, and they know it.
I’m talking about the folks with one or two kids, who post Where’s Waldo-esque photos of their kids in a room full of consumeristic
trash goodies. Christmas haul photos come in two forms – photos of cool stuff that you (or your kids) are grateful to have and shopping porn. And shopping porn is what I’m talking about here. Yuck.
The whole point of posting this Christmas haul, shopping porn bullshiz is to A.) Brag about how much you LOVE your kids, so therefore you spoil the ever loving hell out of them or B.) make other people feel inadequate or jealous. Both of these things are less than admirable in my eyes. If you do this, mark my words; you suck.
Every year, in spite of myself I am so surprised at how insidious this trend it. It seems that every single year it becomes even more of a thing. Just take a look at the pictures you find under one of the most popular holiday hashtags on Instagram, #PresentsGalore
Don’t get me wrong. For all I know, these families all have ten kids. The point isn’t even the amount of gifts (though that certainly doesn’t help) it’s the sharing of it all together. Considering the income disparity that is ever growing, and the inexcusable number of children in poverty, what good comes of shoving your good fortune in other people’s faces, even if it is well-earned? When did photo taking stop being about creating lasting memories for your family and future generations, and start being a tool for oversharing and bragging? Hell, the insanely talented B from STFU Parents has made an entire, successful blog about it. What the eff?
The worst offenders in my opinion, are the people who post pictures like the ones below.
Like I mentioned before, these totally remind me of Where’s Waldo. The poor kids are literally surrounded by presents. They probably don’t even know how to handle this much loot. These parents might have 10 kids too, but seeing as there is only one kid pictured, I think it’s safe to say they don’t.
These types of posts are problematic to me for a number of reasons. Kids are online younger and younger every year. I’ve managed to successfully limit my kid’s online time, but for some parents it either isn’t a priority, or they don’t see the need. And I’m sure as my oldest grows into a teen, it will be way more of an issue for us. I can’t help but imagine how some of these kids feel when they see the multitude of holiday haul photos on social media. Especially if their parents can’t afford to do the same (or refuse to). The kids in my class have been judging each other on who has a damn Rainbow Loom, I can imagine how much these haul photos will be judged as they get older.
When I was a kid, my dad struggled to put food on the table as a single father. He always tried to make the most out of Christmas – being a journeyman carpenter, he actually made quite a few kick ass gifts for me over the years. But talking to him now, as an adult, I know that he always felt as if he let me down because he couldn’t afford the pricey gifts many of my peers received. I am glad I didn’t grow up in an era of social media and shopping porn Christmas haul pics. My dad is awesome and I cherished every gift I ever received. But I wonder… would I have felt that way had I been the recipient of a million and one gifts, Christmas haul style?
(photo: Getty Images)